Stones Throw, 2002
The Fraudulent EP is an assemblage of jazzy tracks and whimsical rhymes recorded in ’93 and ’94 just before the San Jose crew caught the ear of now-famed producer and founder of Stones Throw Records, DJ Peanut Butter Wolf. At the time, PB Wolf and rapper Charizma were signed as a duo to Hollywood/Basic Records and poised to drop a decidedly East Coast friendly long-player. They were pleasantly surprised and genuinely impressed by HD’s similarly pronounced true-school aesthetic as displayed on their “blue tape,” a collection of rough draft cuts that was floating around in local dub circulation. PB Wolf helped the Derelix put out their first 12” vinyl single, the well-received “Cash Money,” Stone’s Throw’s second release.
In 2002, after Stones Throw had already accumulated one of the most prolific, acclaimed, and consistent catalogues in recent hip-hop memory, P.B. Wolf put together this six-song collection of older Homeliss Derelix tracks for an official vinyl release. It was a shrewd move in both an artistic and business sense. Fraudulent feels cohesive and exudes a warm, spirited authenticity despite being a contrivance of sorts. Rapper Grand Visitor winds his syrupy yet thoughtful flows over and around piano riffs, understated bass, and all breeds of minor-key sounds. Though Grand Visitor’s delivery leans towards a higher pitch, there is a scratchiness to his voice that befits these dusty, crackly tape deck gems. Fraudulent is certainly amenable to East Coast ears, but don’t get it twisted: the handclap snare on “Survivin’ The Game” and Grand Visitor’s audible drawl ensure that the EP’s overbearing fixation on authenticity is practiced by its preachers.
It’s hard to say for certain that this EP anticipates a new direction for rap that just never materialized, mostly because the music is more cozily familiar than it is innovative or boundary-pushing. That said, Fraudulent delivers by getting the “lost tapes” out to those listeners pining for an inviting, rewarding update on the early 90s jazz-based sound.